The Jordanian justice authorities are preparing a criminal case against right-wing Dutch MP Geert Wilders because of his anti-Islam film, Fitna. A Jordanian judge has ruled that there is a case to answer. A number of procedures will have to be followed before any indictment is issued and this is likely to take a considerable time.
The complaint has been brought by organisations which believe the film constitutes an incitement to hatred of Muslims. They have already launched a campaign to boycott Dutch products, blaming the government in The Hague for not prosecuting Mr Wilders.
Jordan's justice authorities have announced that they are not aiming to arrest the Dutch MP who leads the right-wing Freedom Party. They say the decision to prosecute was taken in order to send a signal to the Netherlands.
The Jordanian move follows Monday's announcement by Amsterdam's chief public prosecutor Leo de Wit that no case will be brought against Mr Wilders in the Netherlands for either discrimination or incitement to hatred. Mr de Wit investigated comments made by the MP in 2006 and 2007 in a newspaper and on the Internet and also looked at the Fitna film.
He decided the MP's words were offensive to Muslims, but that they had to be taken in the context of the political debate around Islam in the Netherlands. "We find Mr Wilders' remarks were limited to Islam as a religious movement," he said.
The investigation lasted months and took into account European guidelines on discrimination. It also received advice from the Board of Procurators General and various external bodies. A number of individuals and organisations are planning to contest Mr Wit's decision before Amsterdam's court of appeal.
Wilders thinks it's terrible that he's being prosecuted in Jordan, and says it shows that the banana republic of Jordan is not really democratic.
He will make contact again with minister Maxime Verhagen (Foreign Affairs), to push him to action and protest. Wilders says that Verhagen should pressure Jordan diplomatically and demand that the country stop "with this nonsense". He should immediately reprimand the Jordanian ambassador.
According to Tarek Hawamdeh, the Jordanian group's lawyer, Wilders can present a written defense within 15 days. If he does not do so, Interpol could issue an international arrest warrant.
Wilders had spoken to Verhagen last week, wanting to know how great was the risk that he'll be arrested abroad and extradited to Jordan. He's currently updating the Foreign Ministry about every trip aboard, and they in return ask for a statement from that country that they will not extradite Wilders.
Wilders said he will not cooperate with "the circus" of the "corrupt government" in Jordan. He says the Netherlands should protest the Jordanian move and stand up for parliament members, no matter of which party. A parliament member must be left in peace so that he could function freely.
Additionally, Wilders points to the decision of the public prosecution in Amsterdam and says that he hasn't committed a crime.
Wilders is meanwhile contemplating making a sequel to his movie and says he would have been surprised if he would have been prosecuted, since he doesn't have to go by the laws of the banana republics of Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The politician is happy that the public prosecution didn't thwart him from debating Fitna everywhere.
Wilders: We conduct the debate in parliament and in the country, but not in court. Indeed, it's right that I differentiate between an abject religion, which involves grave dangers, and the Muslims, which I have nothing against as a group.
The public prosecution investigated dozens of complaints against Fitna and about 40 complaints against statements by Wilders in De Volkskrant and De Pers.
The public prosecution said that the film is not criminal, neither on its whole nor on the basis of fragments. A few statements by Wilders were threatening or inciting to discrimination, but in the context of the political debate about Islam, those statements were deprived of a criminal character. "In a social debate, statements can be shocking, harsh or abusive, but they are not yet punishable in that.
Various organizations who have lodged complaints against Wilders for discrimination and incitement to hatred will be appealing the decision of the public prosecution not to prosecute him.
Anti-racism organization Nederland Bekent Kleur (The Netherlands recognizes color) and lawyer Els Lucas from Lelystad announced they will begin the process. The applicants hope that the appeals court will direct the prosecution to prosecute Wilders.
The organization "Cooperation of Moroccans in the Netherlands" (Samenwerkingsverband van Marokkanen in Nederland), said it was disappointed with the prosecution's decision. It is still deliberating over further judicial steps. The organization says that the prosecution didn't dare to let the judge test where are the limits of freedom of speech.
Sources: Telegraaf 1, 2, 3 (Dutch), Radio Netherlands (English)